Cable Compendium: a guide to the week’s submarine and terrestrial developments

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12 Aug 2022

The Board of Directors of the National Communications Agency (Ente Nacional de Comunicaciones, ENACOM) has authorised Google Infraestructura Argentina to install Firmina – a private, non-common carrier submarine fibre-optic cable connecting the US, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina – in Argentine territorial waters. The system will comprise a main trunk from Myrtle Beach (South Carolina, US) to Las Toninas (Argentina), with two branching units (BUs) connecting branches to Praia Grande (Brazil) and Punta del Este (Uruguay). In addition, there are two planned BUs, one with a stubbed branch pointing towards Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic and another towards Fortaleza (Brazil). The main trunk will have a total length of 13,413km and will consist of 16 fibre pairs, while the branch to Praia Grande will comprise 24 fibre pairs (580km), Punta del Este (twelve fibre pairs, 524km), Puerto Rico/Dominican Republic (twelve fibre pairs) and Fortaleza (16 fibre pairs). Each fibre pair will have a total design capacity of approximately 15Tbps (for a total of approximately 240Tbps).

The Equiano submarine cable system has completed its final landing at Melkbosstrand, located north of Cape Town (South Africa). The Equiano system, which will run from Portugal to South Africa along the African coast of the Atlantic Ocean, is being deployed by Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) and will be Google’s fourth private cable, following the deployment of Junior (2018), Curie (2020) and Dunant (2021). The system has a design capacity of 144Tbps, with landing points in Namibia, Nigeria, Portugal, Saint Helena, Togo, South Africa and Portugal.

Australia, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Japan, Kiribati, Nauru and the US have inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the development of the East Micronesia Cable (EMC) System project. The new cable system is aiming to connect Kosrae (FSM), Nauru and Tarawa (Kiribati) with the HANTRU-1 cable at Pohnpei (FSM), with funding for the deployment provided by Australia, Japan and the US. Previous plans to deploy the 2,000km EMC System linking the three nations to the HANTRU-1 Submarine Cable between Pohnpei and Guam – with funding from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) secured in April 2018 – fell through in December 2020, after the US government warned the three nations about the security threat posed by the cut-price bid by HMN Tech.

Globe Telecom has commenced laying of the 2,500km Philippine Domestic Submarine Cable Network (PDSCN). The deployment is scheduled to continue over the next nine months, with a ready for service (RFS) date of April 2023. The cable will comprise 24 segments connecting various islands in the Philippines. The USD150 million project is a joint undertaking between Globe, Eastern Communications and internet provider InfiniVAN.

An application filed by FLAG and Reef Bidco Limited (RBL), a subsidiary of 3iN, with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requesting authority to transfer control of FLAG – including the cable landing licence for the FLAG Atlantic-1 Cable System (FA-1) – to RBL has been given the green light. FA-1 connects the US, France and the United Kingdom; TeleGeography notes that the FCC originally licensed the FA-1 system in 1999, and the cable entered commercial operations in June 2001.

Tusass (TELE-POST Greenland) has revealed that a fault has been detected on the Greenland Connect cable system. Repair works on the issue, described as ‘a power failure on the cable, which impairs operational safety’, are scheduled to start in mid-August. The following settlements will be affected by the submarine cable repair: Paamiut, Qaqortoq, Narsaq, Narsarsuaq and Nanortalik, in addition to all settlements south of Nuuk.

Lastly, Bandwidth and Cloud Services (BCS) is deploying a submarine fibre-optic cable link across Lake Tanganyika to connect the towns of Bukavu, Uvira, Baraka and Kalemie (all located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC). BCS also announced that it is building a 1,001km fibre route using the right of way (ROW) along the railway line running from Beitbridge (Zimbabwe) on the border with South Africa to Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) on the border with Zambia. In 2019 BCS laid a cross-border submarine cable across Lake Albert linking Uganda and the DRC and in 2020 deployed a second cable through Lake Albert as a backup. BCS previously announced plans to deploy around 1,000km of submarine cable in Lake Albert and Lake Tanganyika in 2018, as part of an overall plan to expand its fibre-optic network by 4,850km in the East and Central Africa region.

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Argentina, Congo, Dem. Rep., Federated States of Micronesia, Greenland, Kiribati, Nauru, Philippines, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), Eastern Communications, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Globe Telecom (incl. Innove), Google (Alphabet), HMN Tech (formerly Huawei Marine), InfiniVAN, National Communications Agency (ENACOM), Tusass (TELE Greenland)